Eight foreign nationals arrested for romance scam seen as flight risks

By Odwa Mkentane Time of article published Oct 20, 2021

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CAPE TOWN - The State will oppose bail for the eight suspects arrested for allegedly being part of a “romance scam”, saying the accused were a flight risk.

The State also believes that they are likely to tamper with evidence and some were in the country illegally, as their passports had expired.

The Nigerian nationals Perry Osagiede, Enorense Izevbiege, Franklin Edosa Osagiede, Osariemen Eric Clement, Collins Owhofasa Otughwor, Musa Mudashiru, Prince Ibeabuchi Mark, and Toritseju Gabriel Otubu made their first appearance at the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday.

The suspects, aged 33 to 52, were arrested – for internet scams, money laundering, and global-scale financial fraud – in Cape Town.

The operation was initiated based on mutual legal assistance from US central authorities, approved by South Africa. The suspects are also alleged to have ties to a transnational organised crime syndicate originating abroad. The FBI estimated that more than 100 victims lost more than R100 million.

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said the bail hearing was postponed to October 26 and 28.

“This was a first appearance, pending an extradition application by the US government, where warrants for their arrests were issued. In the US, they are charged with wire fraud conspiracy in violation of Title 18, US Code, Section(s) k1349; wire fraud in violation of Title 18, US Code, Section(s) 1343 and 2, Money laundering conspiracy in violation of US Code Section(s) 1956(h), Aggravated identity theft in violation of Title 18, US Code, Section(s) 1028A and 2.

“The warrants were issued in New Jersey and Texas. The accuseds’ fraudulent activities caused at least $6.8 million losses to American citizens, and others around the world. They intend to apply for bail pending the extradition application,” said Ntabazalila.

Cape Times

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